TURN TO CHANNEL 3: PS1’s ‘Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit’ maintains speed and fun
It’s a pretty known fact among my family and friends that I’m not a big racing game fan, at least in the traditional sense. You won’t see me playing any NASCAR games, or even any “Gran Turismo” games, and I guess this is because I feel rather confined to the basic guidelines of these games. I love the kart-style games, of course, but I’m also a big fan of the “Daytona USA” titles, and today’s topic is among my favorite racing games – “Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit” on the original PlayStation!
Strap yourself in and hold on tight because on Turn to Channel 3 I’ve got the need – the need for speed!
“Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit” (PS1)
In truth, the soundtrack to this game may elicit some visions of European nightclubs or rave parties somewhere, but I found it to be just the right mix of class and adrenaline, which is what many racing games lack in this area. It is a well-rounded soundtrack with themes that fit every track like a glove, from the oddly titled “Snorkeling Cactus” for the desert stage that packs in a ton of surfer attitude with some rock, to the techno sounds of “Cetus 808,” which fits into more urban areas and is also great music in between stages. There are even some darker tunes like “Warped” and “Knossos” that suit the more industrial stages.
The sound effects, of course, are mostly basic and expected: the rev of an engine, a screech of a brake and, yes, the cops in the Hot Pursuit mode, which can range from your standard city cop to a more backwoods accent for the more rural areas. I will touch on this again in another section, and you’ll see why.
Some may say that, unlike its PC version, this 1998 game has not aged well in nearly two decades and, while I can see why they would say that, as it does suffer from some blurring in the frame rate, I still found this game pretty impressive looking for its time, especially in regards to the details on the cars.
In addition, I thought most tracks (with the exception of a few on the hidden ones) were also pretty well done after all these years, with the rural track and the Aquatica stage being the most impressive, the latter allowing you to drive through an aquarium tunnel still standing out the most for me.
On the surface, “Hot Pursuit” offers you a few modes, from single races to tournaments and even knockouts, all of them pretty fun but, of course, Hot Pursuit takes the cake. There’s still something so fun about getting chased by the cops and hoping you just get fined and not arrested (game over!).
All of this aside, it is the silly things about this game under the surface (or the hood, if you prefer) that push it high on my list of favorites. There are a multitude of codes you can use in this game, from simply unlocking cars (including the El Nino concept car that goes like 200 mph in a snap) to other tracks that include such gems as inside a fish tank, an Area 51 alien hub, and even a kid’s toy room! This sounds silly, but “Gran Turismo” wasn’t giving you this kind of fun nonsense, now was it?
If this isn’t enough for you, why not try a code that lets you honk your horn and flip cars? That’s right, speedsters, evade the cops with a simple honk of the horn, and if you think that makes the game too easy, go a different route and put a code in to change the language of the cops so you can be talked sternly to in Spanish or German, because why not?
“Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit” is one of those PlayStation games that isn’t expensive (most complete copies will only run you $7 at most), but it isn’t one that you necessarily see out in the wild too often while game hunting. That being said, I encourage you to hunt for it, just to enjoy the splendor of all the crazy things you can do in this game and, even after stripping all of that down, it’s still a quality racer nearly two decades later. Not many racing games can say that.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this review. Next time we journey back to those fond memories of Disney cartoons and that theme song that you just can’t get out of your head as I look at the original (not the remastered version!) of “DuckTales” on the NES!
Until then, I hope you’re getting holiday wish lists in full swing and, heck, maybe there’s a classic game or two (or five) on your list this year because the holidays are a great time to game on!